Managers describe team members as being high-maintenance, their teams as high-drama, and their discontented employees and high-sensitive. When I ask for particulars - specifics - I notice that they are often complaining about disproportionate responses.
What are disproportionate responses? They are reactions that don't seem to fit the response.
- Like a woman who blows up at a cashier who drops her quarter change.
- Like the MANY political ads.
- Like the team member that believes his or her manager is out to get him or her (this is rarely the case).
- Like the team that bands together to complain about a manager who is implementing new accountability systems (this really happened) and saying that she is mean and unfit to manage.
You get the idea. The question I like to explore is WHY do people respond in ways that seem disproportionate? What's going on? Each situation is unique but here are a few common catalysts:
- Control - or fear of loss of control. At the heart of control issues are confidence issues.
- A lack of love - when people feel unimportant and unloved.
- Groupthink - this is behind many of the political ads, I think. Together we spin tales into movements into today's truths. (Groupthink is a disproportionate amount of connection)
- Disconnection - I will be more likely to respond in a way that seems out of whack if I don't feel connected. Connection builds perspective and interest.
- Learned incompetence - this is too common and occurs when groups get good at circumvention, sabotage, and end up holding themselves to a very low standard of team performance.
As a manager, you can impact many of these catalysts and reduce their power and impact. Instead of playing the victim and calling out these behaviors and then stopping, dig further, ask a few questions and get things moving in the right direction. See things for what they are and resist the urge to have your own disproportionate responses (managers freak out too). In return you will enjoy more high-independence, high-adaptable, high-satisfaction team members.